As Delaware’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer, Keith Hunt is laying the groundwork for a position that didn’t exist even two years ago.
Working in the Department of Human Resources, which formed in 2017, Hunt’s mandate is to improve workplace culture in Delaware through education, collaboration and accountability. He brings experience from half a dozen managerial and human resource positions, including Proctor and Gamble in Ohio and Human Capital Solutions Inc. in Philadelphia.
“There’s power in accountability in this work,” Hunt said. “You can’t spend enough to change the hearts and minds of people, but you can hold them accountable.”
One of his first major projects was to help meet the recruitment needs of officers in the state Department of Correction. State prisons, he said, were hemorrhaging money in overtime. “We had to work hard and fast to fill those positions and establish protocol around recruitment,” Hunt said.
Hunt’s latest project is to proactively address allegations of discrimination at DelDOT. “Secretary [Jennifer] Cohan is committed to fostering an inclusive, productive workplace environment within DelDOT,” Hunt said.
Hunt highlighted two early experiences that influenced his perspective. “Proctor and Gamble (P&G) shaped my philosophy and understanding around the possibilities of breaking down barriers around sex and racism within an [organization],” he said, adding that the workforce there during the mid-1970s was predominantly white males.
Hunt later worked for Scott Paper, where he learned the principles of lean management. He applied this new style to his work in product diversification. Today, he utilizes lean management principles to foster lasting change.
Hunt said many look at diversity and inclusion as a spin-off of affirmative action. On the contrary, he said, the intention is to create an inclusive culture for all. There are plenty of qualified candidates who want to work in a welcoming workplace environment within state government, he added.